Huge Debt Adds to Harare Water Woes

Harare residents should brace for serious water woes, as the money that the local authority owes local suppliers has increased fourfold to $350 million up from $80 million eight months ago.

Harare City Council last month only managed to pump an average of 319 megalitres daily against a demand of 800 megalitres.

There are fears that water woes may mount as Harare was recently forced to switch off its major treatment plant, Morton Jaffray, after it ran out of water treatment chemicals.

Harare’s debt has continued to rise despite it receiving several bailouts from Government, with the last amounting to $23 million being released in February.

Speaking during a recent tour of various projects by Government, acting town clerk Dr Prosper Chonzi admitted that all was not well at Town House.

“Our major challenges with water supply include the high cost of water treatment chemicals, an unsustainable tariff regime and a huge debt owed to suppliers of water treatment chemicals such as Chemplex,” he said.

“Council owes suppliers of treatment chemicals over $350 million. Water treatment chemicals cost US$2 million. Our monthly water coverage increased to 61,25 percent from 58,66 percent last month.”

Dr Chonzi blamed poor revenue inflows for their failure to liquidate part of the city’s debt.

“Currently, we are collecting an average of 32 percent of the potential and this has resulted in an increase in its debtor’s book and has contributed to poor service delivery,” he said.

Dr Chonzi said the city was now owed $1,8 billion by ratepayers, up from $1,4billion four months ago.

Newly elected Harare deputy mayor Councillor Luckson Mukunguma in his acceptance speech admitted that the local authority had no capacity to address the water issues that have been affecting the city for years.

“We need to make sure we engage national Government on issues like water so that those are resolved,” he said. “We are not able to solve those things alone as a council, so we need to engage, it is very important.”

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